Coline Serreau

Coline Serreau

Jury Member 2022

Coline Serreau is a French director, screenwriter, actress and musician. She has written and directed numerous films and plays, composed music for films, and she directs a choir she created.

She was born in Paris, daughter of Geneviève Serreau (translator and author of novels, theatrical pieces, and of the Histoire du Nouveau Théâtre, and literary director of Lettres Nouvelles) and of Jean-Marie Serreau (avant-garde actor and director, who staged plays written by Brecht, Beckett, Ionesco, Kafka, Aimé Césaire, and many others). After studying literature, she continued her education at the Higher National Conservatory of Music in Paris, took music and aesthetics lessons from Norbert Dufourcq and Marcel Beaufils, and studied organ with Jean Langlais. She attended Annie Fratellini’s Circus School, where she practiced the trapeze, and also studied classical and modern dance. She then approached the world of theatre as an actress apprentice at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre in 1968, and as an intern at the Comédie-Française in 1969. She then devoted herself to theatre and film writing, and to theatre, cinema and opera direction. Her first screenplay, We Were Mistaken About Love, became a feature film in 1973, directed by Jean-Louis Bertuccelli, in which she plays the female role. She made numerous movies as a director and screenwriter: her first film But What Do They (Women) Want? (1975), about the condition of women, was shown for one year; and her second film Why Not? (1977), the story of a love triangle of two men and a woman, had a great success with the audience and the critics. She then made Qu’est-ce Qu’on Attend Pour Ětre Heureux (1981), a satire of the world of advertising, and Three Men and a Cradle (1985), an international success that recorded 12 million spectators, winner of three Césars (for best film, screenplay, and supporting actor), and nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes for best foreign film. This film inspired an American remake, made in 1987 and called Three Men and a Cradle, based on Coline’s storyline, and a sequel called 18 Ans Après (2003), again written by Coline. It was also adapted as a theatrical play, staged in 2018 at the Théâtre du Gymnase à Paris. She then wrote and directed Romuald and Juliette (1989) and The Crisis! (1992) that made her win a César for best screenplay, later adapted for the theatre with Samuel Tasinaje in 2019. The Green Planet (1996) is one of her most famous and acclaimed films, in which she played in the leading role, and for which she also wrote the soundtrack: it is a humorous critique of the problems of the Western and industrial world, such as frenzy, abuse of power, pollution and natural resource consumption. She wrote and directed Chaos, winner of a César for best female promise (2001), Saint-Jacques … La Mecque (2005), and the documentary about ecology called Think Global, Act Rural (2010). Her latest films include a reportage about France and the car, called Tout Est Permis (2012), and the films Couleur Locale (2014) and Pierre Brossolette (2015). More recently, she wrote a new film called Tempêtes in 2020, and two screenplays in 2021 – for a series called Consuelo, based on the novel by Georges Sand, and for a historical series called Du Chaos à L’Unité.

Over the years, she has played several roles in very important plays, including works written by Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1971, at the Théâtre de Chateauvallon, and As You Like It in 1976, in Avignon, in Paris, and in tours in Switzerland and Belgium), Pirandello (Liolà in 1973), Bertoldt Brecht (The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1978, in Avignon, in Paris and at Europe francophone), and Molière (The School of Wives in 2006, directed by Coline herself at the Théâtre de la Madeleine). She has written numerous plays, where she acted in the leading role, such as Lapin Lapin, that staged in Paris and on tour in Italy, Scandinavia, and Germany; Quisaitout et Grobêta (1994), winner of five Molières, staged in Paris for three seasons and on tour in Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Italy; Le Salon d’Été (1998), and Le Théâtre de Vegetables (1999). She also directed some operas at the Opéra Bastille, including The Flittermouse by Johan Strauss in 2000, The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini in 2001, and Manon by Jules Massenet. In 2019 she staged Lapin Lapin at the Schiller Théâtre in Berlin, and in the same year she performed at the Comédie-Odéon in Lyon with a play called #COLINE SERREAU, a solo show she also wrote. In 2022, she is on tour with a show about Musset, Hugo and Nietzsche.

In 2007 she created the “Choeur Delta”, a choir she directs and  in many tours in Paris, Venice, Brittany, in Pays de la Loire and in Drôme, with tens of concerts every summer. She was president of the Académie Fratellini, where she directed the shows Hip Envolée hop in 2009 and Cirkipop in 2010, and she was also president for two years of ARP – the association of authors, directors and producers. In 2017 she was president of the jury of the “International Gardens Festival” in Chaumont-sur-Loire, and she is the patroness and artistic advisor of the “Paris Des Orgues Festival”, organized by J.F Guipont. With Actes-Sud she has published several of her works, including a book about the Fratellini Academy, the book Think Global, Act Rural, the book #COLINE SERREAU (in 2019), the screenplays of La Belle Verte and Lapin Lapin, and the theatrical adaptations of The Crisis! and Three Men And A Cradle (in 2021). With Flammarion she published the novel Saint Jacques la Mecque. She received the SACD Grand Prize in 2004, and was honored with many titles, including Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1999, Officer of the National Order of Merit in 2011, and Officer of the Legion of ‘Honor in 2016. She was elected member of the Academy of Fine Arts in 2018, in the chair of Pierre Schoendoerffer.


For the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival Coline Serreau has chosen to talk about the following films:

Trois hommes et un couffin – Three Men and a Cradle  (1985)
Jacques, Pierre and Michel are three adult friends who enjoy being single, until they are framed by a child.

La crise – The Crisis (1992)
One day Victor discovers that his wife has left him and their children, and he is also fired from his job, so he seeks the help of his friends and family.

La belle verte – The Green Planet (1996)
On a distant planet, the rural vegans master telepathy and mental power to travel at interstellar level. Mila is sent to Earth to report back. She lands in Paris – quite a cultural shock, earthlings are strange people.

Solutions locales pour un désordre global (2010)
A male-dominated and heroic industrial agronomy that produces heavily contaminated and modified food and causes arid wastelands is challenged by several world examples of a sensitive organic approach to producing food.